Norwich City kick off their 2016/17 campaign for an immediate return to the Premier League at Ewood Park today as they face Owen Coyle’s new team, Blackburn Rovers, following former City boss Paul Lambert stepped down from his position as manager last season.
After finishing 15th last time, Blackburn Rovers will be hoping their summer signings could give their side a decent shot in the League, with Danny Graham, Anthony Stokes, Liam Feeney and Gordon Greer all arriving on free transfers. In addition, youngsters Stephen Hendrie and Jack Byrne joined on season-long loans from West Ham and Manchester City respectively.
Departures from Ewood Park were in full force on July 1, with 20 being released, including former Canary Simeon Jackson, who has since signed for Walsall, whilst Rovers will be hoping the departure of defender Grant Hanley to fellow Championship side Grant Hanley for a deal believed to have been in the range of £5.5million plus add ons, will not impact the side.
Whereas, City fresh from the Premier League have experienced their fair share of transfer rumours during the summer. Along with several academy players being released on July 1, midfielder Gary O’Neil joined Bristol City on a free transfer, whilst Nathan Redmond switched Norfolk for the South Coast as he signed a deal worth £10 million with Southampton. Goalkeeper Jake Kean left City for Sheffield Wednesday by mutual consent, whilst Ricky Van Wolfswinkel and Vadis Odjija-Ofoe departed Carrow Road for Vitesse Arnhem and Legia Warsaw respectively. Goalkeepers Remi Matthews and Declan Rudd also departed on a temporary basis to get game time at Hamilton Academical and Charlton Athletic respectively.
Arrivals to Carrow Road has seen Michael McGovern arrive fresh from Euros 2016 on a free transfer, whilst Paul Jones arrived also on a free transfer having been released by Portsmouth. In addition, cash was spent to bring in Sergi Canos from Liverpool for £2.55 million and the most recent arrival, Alex Pritchard for a deal believed to have been worth £8 million from Tottenham Hotspur.
Twitter: We are delighted to announce the signing of @pritch_93 on a four-year deal! #ncfc
The Canaries have retained the likes of Timm Klose and Robbie Brady for the time being, having been centre of speculation of their whereabouts following their season in the Premier League. Whilst the likes of Wes Hoolahan, Alex Tettey, Graham Dorrans, Cameron Jerome and Steven Whittaker all signed new deals over the summer to extend their time at NR1.
For Norwich fans, there will be two familiar faces who could be facing the Canaries with Elliott Ward and Elliott Bennett both joining the Canaries during Paul Lambert’s time in charge of Rovers.
Whilst head-to-head statistics would work more in the favour of Rovers, City could be optimistic that they achieved back-to-back victories against their opponents in 2014/15 winning 3-1 at home and 2-1 at Ewood Park, with Bradley Johnson scoring last-minute goals both times round.
However, City fans should be warned that the Canaries have not won an opening day fixture for 13 years, with their last being in August 2002 against Grimsby Town in a 4-0 victory at Carrow Road, where Paul McVeigh and Philip Mulryne both scored braces for the Canaries.
Whilst Rovers have also failed to win their opening day fixture for five years running, with their last being when the team were competing in the Premier League and won against Everton 1-0, with that single goal coming from Nikola Kalinic.